Title: Thunderstorm Dancing
Author: Katrina Germein
Illustrator: Judy Watson
Published: January 2021 (Paperback)
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Children’s Picturebook
A rollicking rhyming story about a family who dance up a storm while the wind and rain swirl outside. Rhythm, rhyme and family mayhem. Perfect for reading aloud, this playful, energetic story will have young children leaping into action.
When a sunny day at the beach turns stormy, a little girl runs for cover. Her daddy and brothers are wild in the wind and lightning, and her poppy is as loud as thunder. They fill the house with stamping and crashing while Granny plays piano to their riotous thunderstorm dancing, until the storm passes and they all fall down. Then, in the stillness, the girl is ready to play. What will she be, now that the rain has stopped and there’s a glimmer of sunlight?
Thunderstorm Dancing was originally published in 2015 and somehow it slipped under my radar but I was very excited to receive a review copy from Allen and Unwin as it’s released in its’ paperback form.
It is the story of a family who are at the beach when the day turns dark and stormy. As they all rush inside the different members of the family take on the roles of the storm – the loud sounds, the bright flashes of lightning and the wildness of the wind. As the weather outside grows and swells with sound, so does the family, creating their own music until the storm passes. Each moment is witnessed by the young daughter who’s role comes into play after the storm has passed and the sun starts to shine once more.
This is an absolutely gorgeous book, from the language used (and how it’s used) to the illustrations that have a limited colour palette – yellows, blues, greys and pops of red. It’s lyrical, echoing the idea of the story of the song of the storm, with repetitive phrases that make it ideal for a read aloud.
It’s an ideal book to share with children who are still getting used to storms – the family makes fun out of what is a genuinely scary idea for young children. It’s also perfect for discussions around the language of sounds – onomatopoeia – and how we can represent them with words. A perfect extension of this book would be to have groups of children/students work together to create the sounds of a thunderstorm and build their own soundscape. It also highlights the personalities of every member of the family without spelling it out on the page, by associating each of them with a particular part of the thunderstorm, and would make a perfect mentor text for exploring how we can show character traits in a unique and interesting way.
This is definitely a book that will go on my mentor text shelf for 2022 and I know I’ll be using it a lot with my students.